Tuesday Teaser 1/3/17: Victoria’s Cat Part 1
Happy Tuesday! Today was really my Monday at the day job. It went pretty well but I’m glad it’s over. Anyone else?
Victoria’s Cat is moving right along writing-wise. For those who might be new, here is how my Tuesday Teasers work. I try to post an excerpt each Tuesday in chronological order. You probably won’t get the full story here –after all, I’ll be publishing this in June or July and I don’t want to give away everything 😉 but you’ll get most of it. These are not edited. Usually I haven’t even proof read them, so if you see errors, please be gracious and ignore them. These excerpts are pretty raw. The first chapter –for me– is always really raw. This is where I dump info by the bucket load. On my second and third pass I smooth that out, incorporate it into dialogue, delete some to add later in the story, etc. Also, there is very little description here. I’ll add emotion and setting during my revisions.
So, with all that said, here is the opening pages of Victoria’s Cat. Enjoy!
Daughters of the Wolf Clan Book 2
copyright Maddy Barone 2017
The glare of the late afternoon sun bounced off the snow, but Victoria saw the wolf loping down the pine-covered slope to the Clan’s winter camp. Uncle Sky. People said wolves all looked alike, but that wasn’t true. She knew every wolf in the Lakota Wolf Clan and could recognize them on sight, whether they were in human form or wolf. She turned from the dormer window of her bedroom and ran down the stairs.
“Whoa,” her mom said, raising an eyebrow. “What’s the rush?”
Victoria slammed to a stop in the hall at the bottom of the stairs, two inches from her mother. Her mom was one of the very few women as tall as she was. “Uncle Sky is coming down the ridge.”
The eyebrow lifted another fraction of an inch. “We just saw him a month ago at the Mayor’s New Year Gala in Kearney. I wonder what brings him here now?” The eyebrow settled into a tiny frown. “Rose. I hope everything is alright.”
“Uncle Sky wouldn’t leave Aunt Rose if she wasn’t alright.” But her mom had a point. Why would Sky run from the den near Kearney, Nebraska to the Wolf Clan winter camp in the Black Hills? It was a four hundred mile trek in February and most of her family had been in Kearney at the end of January. “Maybe he’s brought mail.”
Her mom turned her head sharply at the hopeful note in her voice. “Are you expecting something important in the mail, Vic?”
Victoria almost lied. Instead, she kept her tone casual. “I was hoping to hear from Marty Madison. And Olivia,” she added.
Her mom sighed, raked a hand through her silvering blond hair, and looked at her with pale blue eyes. Seeing a lecture coming, Victoria grabbed her coat from the hook by the door and went out on the porch. Dozens of her uncles and cousins were howling a welcome to Sky. Her uncle trotted into the center of the camp and Victoria’s spirits lifted when she saw the small leather satchel that hung around his neck. Her father came around from the back of their house, trailed by four of her five brothers.
“Sky!” he shouted, as his little brother shifted from wolf to human. “Welcome!”
Sky stood naked in the packed snow and lifted the satchel over his head before being crushed in his brother’s embrace. At an inch over six feet, Sky wasn’t not a small man, but his brother was five inches taller and nearly fifty pounds heavier. The brothers broke apart, grinning.
“I have mail from the den and the House,” Sky said, opening the leather bag. “Glory? Three for you.”
Her mother strode down the porch steps to give her brother-in-law a hug and take her mail. If her mother had embraced a man who wasn’t Clan, her father would have killed him. “One from Carla, one from Connie, and one from Lisa Madison,” she announced, pleased.
It was clan custom to let everyone know who had written. Later, the letters would be read aloud so the entire clan would know the news. The recipient could choose to read only parts of the letter for privacy’s sake, but there was very little privacy in the Wolf Clan. If Marty had written, Victoria silently vowed she would keep the whole thing private.
“And two letters for Victoria.” Her uncle held them out to her with a smile.
Victoria gave him a hug too. He was one inch taller than she was. “One from Olivia, and …” Her heart sank. “One from Aunt Marissa.”
Uncle Sky had a letter for Aunt Sherry and one for Aunt Sara. He handed them out, then looked around the circle of relatives. “I didn’t come just to deliver mail. I have news from Omaha.”
Her father straightened. “Omaha? What do we have to do with Omaha?” He sent his brother a quick look. “You have nothing to do with that place anymore.”
Sky slipped his legs into the jeans his brother Raven tossed him. “Omaha is under pressure from Kansas City to join them in a treaty. Omaha’s mayor, Ryan McGrath, is calling for all settlements with fifty or more adults to send a delegate to the legislative session that starts in March. He wants to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.”
Her father jerked a hand in dismissal. “We have nothing to do with Omaha or Kansas City.”
Uncle Stag, the clan’s holy man, folded his arms. “This needs to be discussed in council.”
Her father nodded. “Call the clan together. We meet in one hour.”
As Victoria hurried back to the house, she heard Uncle Sky say, “You’ve added on again. The second story is new.”
Her father replied, “Glory wanted an art studio with good light. And we put Victoria’s bedroom up there too.”
Victoria ran up the stairs to her bedroom and closed the door. Marty had promised he would write. They had danced together four times at the Gala, and would have danced more if her male relatives hadn’t monopolized her after that. The look in his eyes as they danced made her hope he would ask her to marry him. But he hadn’t written, not even once. Had she imagined it? No. She’d seen that expression a thousand times on the faces of her male relatives when they looked at their mates.
She sat on her bed and tore open Olivia’s letter first. It was full of breezy news of newlywed life, centering on how good it was to be mated to a mountain cat. Victoria smiled. Her little cousin was so happy, and Victoria was happy for her, even if her happiness was tinged with melancholy over her own lack of a husband. She set Olivia’s letter aside and looked at the one from Aunt Marissa. Strange. She and Aunt Marissa weren’t close. What was she writing to her for?
She carefully opened the letter and took out the single sheet of paper.
I ran into Lisa Madison at Martin’s store this morning and she asked if I could pass a message on to you from her brother-in-law, Marty. He says he apologizes if he overstepped and mistook your interest. If you should ever change your mind and want to contact hhim, he will be in Omaha for the legislative session for all of March and the first week of April, and then he will be back in Kearney. Nothing would make him happier than receiving word from you that he has your respect and affection. He also says that if he doesn’t hear from you by May first, he will come looking for you.
Does that mean what I think it means? Were you and the mayor’s brother courting, but you turned him down? Are you crazy? I think it would be wonderful for you to marry Marty Madison. His brother is the mayor of Kearney, he is Kearney’s representative in Omaha, and he’s handsome! Write him a letter today!
Clutching the letter, Victoria closed her eyes. She hadn’t imagined Marty’s interest. He hadn’t been only flirting with her. Where did he get the idea that she didn’t like him? Her eyes flared open, then narrowed, and she ground her teeth.
Dad. The over-protective Alpha must have warned Marty off. Had he and her brothers disappeared for a while at the Gala? Eyes still narrowed, she thought back. Yes, they had, while she’d been dancing with Tommy, Uncle Quill’s eldest son. She could just imagine what they had said to Marty. Curse them.
She carefully slid the letter back into the envelope and tucked it under her pillow, then went downstairs to go to the council. She loved her dad. She even loved her brothers. But they had to learn that she was a twenty-six year old woman, not a six year old girl. She had a few things to say in council.